General News | 6 May 2005 16:49 CET

For Stephanie, the beat stops... temporarily

THERE is tension and worries in Nollywood as current Reel Award Best Actress of the Year and one of Nigeria's most sought after home movie actresses Stephanie Onyekachi Okereke lies critically ill in a hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The actress of the Emotional Crack fame who recently starred in a South African soap, Snitch and was only recently auditioned for a role in a Hollywood movie was involved in a ghastly motor accident along the Owerri/Port Harcourt Road last week.

The actress who hails from Ngo-apala in Imo State according to a close family source, was on her way to Yenegoa in Bayelsa State to attend the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA). Okereke who early in the year wedded an America-based ex-international Chikelu Iloanyansi was a top contender for the Best Actress diadem at the award event which held last Saturday at the multi-billion naira, Civic Centre in Yenegoa.

Few hours before the commencement of the award, words filtered in that the car in which the actress was travelling was involved in a head on collision with another car, which burnt beyond recognition. Her car, which was also burnt reportedly skidded off the road after it collided with the on-coming vehicle and rammed into the bush soon after the driver lost control. Stephanie reportedly sustained severe injuries while the driver was feared dead. "Her legs were terribly hit and she was groaning in pains through out", revealed the eyewitness at the hospital who claimed to have been in the rescue team.

Stephanie could not be reached on phone, but a lady, who picked up her phone and who claimed to be one of her relations disclosed that she was in a stable condition even though at the time the call was pulled through to her, she was about being taken into the "theatre for surgery on her legs".

The conversation had gone thus: "No, this is not Stephanie. I am her relation. She can't talk to you now. Yes she is fine only that she has some fractures on her right leg and some burns on her face. We pray she would overcome it. But right now she is being taken into the theatre for surgery on her legs. May be you call her later. But she is stable and the doctors are doing their best. Please call back..."

Steve Eboh (aka) Ajebo who only yesterday returned from Port Harcourt said the actress was responding to treatment. He also confirmed that Stephanie's driver was hale and hearty and was also responding to treatment. "We talked at length yesterday after the initial surgery was done on her. The doctors said they would perform another round of surgery. It is obvious she won't be around for sometime. As at yesterday, I was informed that some surgeons have been drafted from Lagos to Port Harcourt to help out. But she is generally stable and responding very well to treatment", Eboh said even as he called on the many fans of the talented actress to pray for her soonest recovery.

Born Stephanie Onyekachi Okereke to Mazi and Lolo Okereke, the actress had always wanted to be an entertainer. She showed unrelenting interest in drama while at St. Bridges Secondary School, Asaba Delta State, where she had her secondary education. It was while at St. Bridges, that her interest in acting blossomed. From there, Stephanie was admitted to study English and Literary Studies at the University of Calabar. This was in 1998, the same year she featured as a Supporting Actress in two of the movie sector's offering for that year, Compromise and Waterloo. Her participation in those movies particularly Waterloo marked the beginning of the road to fame for the slim built Stephanie, the sixth child in a family of eight who took a break from schooling and acting to contest in the 2002 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant. She was named 2nd runner up in the contest, which she said had helped to build her confidence. After the pageant, Stephanie returned to Calabar to round up her University education. She returned to the movie and grabbed a lead in the movie entitled Terror. She followed it up with a remarkable performance in Private Sin and then More Than A Woman.

So far she has featured in well over 50 movies such as, Queen Sheba, Together As One, Taste Of Sin, Diamond Lady, Pretender, Sensational Spy, Deep Love, and the two-part flick Strength of a Woman. Indeed since she returned to the movie full time, there has been no stopping Stephanie who is unarguably the most sought after actress on the turf.

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